Connections - 06.29.23

How We’re Optimizing the Employee Experience to Attract & Retain DSPs

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At GoodLife, we believe everyone deserves to live a balanced, healthy life. That includes not just the individuals we serve, but also the direct support professionals (DSPs) who support them.

Improving the employee experience is one way to achieve both of these goals. Think about it: When employees have a positive experience at work, they’re more likely to create a positive experience for the individuals in their care.

A positive employee experience also gives you a leg up on attracting and retaining talent. In fact, people who have a positive employee experience are eight times more likely to want to stay at your company.

With that in mind, here are three ways we’re leveling up the employee experience — and you can too.

Expanding Our Benefits

For us, optimizing the employee experience started with better understanding our DSPs’ current pain points.

One thing we recognized is that DSPs have very different needs from management when it comes to benefits. DSPs are often forced to choose between meeting daily living needs like groceries and gas, or participating in traditional insurance and 401(k) plans. This fueled a number of changes to our benefits packages, such as offering weekly (and optional daily) pay to match employees’ cash flow needs, and giving employees a tax-free ‘health allowance’ to spend on the individual coverage that makes sense for their families.

We also realized that while half of DSPs are eligible for low-cost food and housing subsidy assistance programs, many aren’t taking advantage of them. This is an easy fix, since we — like most community providers — already help the individuals we serve access these programs. It’s simply a matter of extending this help to our DSPs who might be eligible.

From there, we’re also introducing non-traditional benefits like housing subsidies, food stamps, transportation vouchers, student loan paybacks, superstore memberships, credit counseling, trauma support, and child care assistance to meet the unique needs of our DSP workforce.

Creating Career Advancement Paths

Another common pain point in the employee experience is a lack of career advancement opportunities. In fact, 30% of employees who leave do so because they don’t see a potential for promotion within their current company.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution; some DSPs may desire a pay bump but don’t want to become a manager. Instead, we realized we needed to create different career paths that match our employees’ skills and job aspirations.

At GoodLife, this looks like opportunities to live with or near people who need support in exchange for benefits like free housing, basic utilities, and tax-free compensation. It also includes mid-level positions like trainers, iCoaches (that help people remotely via iLink), case managers, behavioral specialists, licensed nurses, job coaches, and many other roles.

By providing varied professional development and growth opportunities, we’re able to hang on to high potential employees and help them advance within our organization and the care industry at large. As a result, one in ten of our entry-level DSPs move up the ladder every year.

Aligning Our Mission and Culture

For many workers — and those in the care industry especially — a job is more than just a paycheck. It’s a source of identity, pride, and personal satisfaction. It’s no wonder that employees with a clear sense of their company’s mission and purpose are 4.5 times more likely to be engaged at work.

A big part of our strategy revolves around engaging our DSPs with our mission, vision, goals, and values. By giving our employees ongoing opportunities to share their ideas, voice their needs, and engage with GoodLife on all levels, we can measure the connection our DSPs have to their work — and understand the factors that influence it.

Rather than simply taking this information and filing it away, we use it to optimize benefits, training, communication strategies, employee appreciation and recognition. This helps ensure that our employees feel fulfilled in their jobs and want to stick around.

Your Turn

Expanding benefits, creating career advancement paths, and aligning our mission and culture has helped us improve the lives of those we support and the caregivers who make our mission possible. It has also helped us to retain our best employees and attract even more talent to our organization. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies at your organization, get in touch today!

For more than 30 years, Mike Strouse has led GoodLife Innovations, Inc., where he serves as President & CEO.